I purchased four mated queens in August with the intention of splitting some of my older colonies to create four new colonies. The requeening didn’t work out so well, but eventually I think (I hope) I got one colony started up well from a split and another one requeened. The other two mated queens were killed outright and another replacement queen I picked up a week later isn’t dead, but it’s barely laid an egg and it’s currently living in a nuc box — and it looks like this:
It doesn’t look good. Her wings are cracked too.
First of all, that’s what I call a stubby queen. A well-mated queen that’s laying well usually has a long even abdomen like this queen:
Superficially the difference may not look like much, but there’s a big difference. The second I saw the marked queen I knew she wasn’t laying, only because I’ve seen non-laying queens before. They look short and fat and not much larger than regular worker bees. They’re easy to miss because size-wise, they blend in well with other bees. They are not good layers, if they lay at all. Maybe they don’t have the reach to properly lay an egg at the very centre and bottom of the cells. What’s strange is that this queen didn’t look stubby when I installed her. It’s possible she never got into a laying rhythm and now she’s shut down for the year because it’s cold. Maybe she’ll do fine in the spring. I don’t know.
But I do know she’s living in a nuc box where she probably hasn’t laid much of anything at least for a month because other than one or two larvae that are probably drones, there’s no brood on any of the frames and not many bees in what’s left of the cluster either. I may add a frame or two of bees from one of my overflowing hives so they don’t freeze to death going into winter. Then I’ll do what I can to keep her alive in a nuc. But none of this bodes well.
I’m also now concerned about the other two surviving mated queens I bought. Are they even alive? Did they shut down early too? Are they going to give out on me over the winter? I don’t know. I guess I’ll have to dig into those hives and find out, just when I thought all my major messing around with the bees was done for the year.